REVIEW: The November Man Is the Wrong Kind of Bleak

Cool guys don't look at green screen explosions.
Cool guys don’t look at green screen explosions.

While it’s true James Bond is a tough act to follow, Pierce Brosnan seems to be having a hard time finding a niche following his stint as 007. Not a gifted comedian or dramatic actor (how many businessmen can this guy play?), Brosnan has attempted a number of variations on his suave British spy persona. The November Man is the most blatant and the least successful, by a mile.

Retired CIA agent Peter Devereaux (Brosnan) is recruited for a mission off-the-books, involving a former colleague and a Russian presidential candidate with a seriously dirty resume. As it happens often with under the table assignments, everything goes wrong and Devereaux finds himself on the run, pursued by all the parts involved and with a very big secret to protect. The cherry on top is that a former pupil of his is on his tail.

Even for run-of-the-mill spy thrillers this one is particularly incompetent. Between token action sequences, every character has a chance to deliver highfalutin speeches about foreign policy. I would rather hear Pierce sing. Brosnan good looks and charm make him hard to believe as a weathered, bitter pro. A bigger offender is Luke Bracey: Ostensibly a pretty face studios want to turn into the next Channing Tatum, Bracey has the charisma of a wet noodle and not for a second gives the impression he could outsmart 007.

Once an effective craftsman (No Way Out is still a paradigm of the twisty political thriller), Roger Donaldson fails to provide any believable ground to the unfolding of the intrigue. Every character tries very hard to find the least effective way possible to achieve their goals. The November Man attempts to gain in poignancy by introducing Chechnya to the narrative, but its intentions are too blatant to be taken seriously.

A bit of trivia: Luke Bracey is set to star in the remake of Point Break as the Keanu Reeves’ character. I’m skipping that one for so many reasons.

One caustic Prairie Dog. The November Man opens tomorrow.

Author: Jorge Ignacio Castillo

Journalist, film critic, documentary filmmaker, and sometimes nice guy. Member of the Vancouver Film Critics Circle. Like horror flicks, long walks on the beach and candlelight dinners. Allergic to cats.